Friday, April 12, 2019

Alliance Legislative Report 101-13

The Illinois General Assembly took action on several major pieces of legislation this week. Bills regarding teacher salaries, compulsory school attendance age, superintendent sharing, charter schools, and pensions all advanced.

Both chambers finished up their work today and have now hit the half-way point of the session. When the Senate and House of Representatives resume again on April 30, the Senate will be taking up House bills and the House will be considering Senate bills.

The Senate Executive Committee Wednesday approved Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 1 that proposes to amend the Illinois Constitution to allow for a graduated income tax rate. The measure is now pending action on the Senate floor.

One of Governor JB Pritzker's top priorities is to implement a "fair tax system" that would allow the state to impose higher income tax rates on individuals with higher incomes. The Constitution currently prohibits anything but a flat rate for all taxpayers. The governor announced his plan for the graduated tax levels in March.

In order to amend the Constitution, both chambers of the General Assembly must approve the resolution by a 3/5 vote this spring and then place it on the General Election ballot in November of 2020. A 3/5 vote of those voting on the question or a majority of those voting in the election would be necessary to enact the measure.

Bills proposing new physical education mandates and forced school district consolidation did not advance this week.

SB 10 (Manar, D-Bunker Hill) and HB 2078 (Stuart, D-Collinsville) would increase the minimum teacher salary to $40,000 per year. The House of Representatives approved HB 2078 Tuesday and the Senate passed SB 10 Thursday. Even with the proposed phase-in of the new minimum salaries; this onerous unfunded mandate will consume a large percentage of any new funded provided under the new evidence-based formula, usurps the local control for local school districts, and undermines the collective bargaining process. The Alliance opposes these bills.

SB 2075 (Lightford, D-Westchester) lowers the compulsory school attendance age from age six to age 5 (by May 31st). It also requires public schools to offer kindergarten. The Senate approved the bill on Thursday. The Alliance opposes the bill.

SB 1287 (Rezin, R-Morris) allows voters to put forth a referendum that would require school districts to share a superintendent, assistant superintendent, or school business official. The Senate approved the bill Wednesday. The Alliance opposes the bill.

SB 1226 (Holmes, D-Aurora) abolishes the State Charter School Commission and transfers all responsibilities to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). The Senate approved the bill on Thursday. The Alliance supports the bill.

SB 1952 (Manar) repeals provisions that a school district would be liable for the actuarial pension costs for any salary increases over 3% for members of the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) who use that increase to calculate his/her pension amount. It, therefore, reverts the end-of-career salary increase limit back to 6%. The bill also eliminates the test of basic skills for teachers and allows school districts to pay student teachers. SB 1952 was approved by the Senate Wednesday. The Alliance supports the bill.

HB 3606 (Martwick, D-Chicago), regarding student data privacy, contains a myriad of unfunded and/or unworkable mandates on school districts that would place enormous and expensive burdens on districts, including requiring each district to try and re-negotiate potentially hundreds of agreements, adding new posting requirements on websites, and allowing parents to opt out of classes they do not wish their children to participate in. The bill was approved by the House on Thursday. The Alliance opposes the bill.

Click here to read the full report, including other bill action from the week.